GUSD Board of education first Armenian-American prez. seeks dialogue

Glendale News Press
April 26 2004

‘With great pride’

GUSD Board of Education’s first Armenian-American president seeks to
open dialogue with parents, get artificial turf installed at high

By Gary Moskowitz, News-Press

NORTHEAST GLENDALE – Greg Krikorian recently became president of
Glendale’s Board of Education, making him the first Armenian-American
president of the school board.

Krikorian was elected to the board in 2001. He was the board’s clerk
in 2002-03 and, prior to Tuesday’s board meeting, was the vice
president. Krikorian moved into the position based on the board’s
policy of rotating its officers each year.

He replaced Pam Ellis, who is now a board member alongside Chuck
Sambar. Lina Harper is now the board’s clerk, and Mary Boger is the
vice president.

Krikorian, 41, was born and raised in Hartford, Conn. He lives in
Glendale with his wife, Christine, and their five children, Armen,
Gyaneh, Haig, Seran and Shant. Their four school-age children attend
Toll Middle and Balboa Elementary schools.

Krikorian is a co-founder of Cal-Conn Enterprises Inc., a
Glendale-based publishing and marketing firm.

The News-Press recently interviewed Krikorian about taking on the
role of president of the school board.

NEWS-PRESS: How does it feel to become president, and what can the
community expect from your leadership?

GREG KRIKORIAN: I am extremely humbled to be here and serve this
community. I initially wanted to join the board because I felt there
was a need to have a parent who was also a businessperson on the
board. My business background helps add long-term vision to
supporting our schools. People can expect from me a leader that will
pool resources and knowledge of our colleagues to come up with a
vision and set policy for our kids. We are planning not just for
2005, but also for 2010. I realize that what we do as a board is a
team approach, and that team includes parents, staff, teachers, the
community and students.

NP: Why is it significant that you are the first Armenian-American
president of the board?

GK: I think having me on the board, and especially as president,
provides a mentor for all 10,000 or so of our Armenian kids. It’s a
social responsibility. [Former mayor] Larry Zarian opened up the door
for all cultures. I think that I represent the entire community, not
just Armenians, and hopefully I can help open the door for other
communities as well. The challenges that all minorities go through
and the need to work harder and assimilate and become better
citizens, I take this on with great pride.

NP: What are some specific goals you have for the school district in
the next year?

GK: One thing I’d like to do is invite students and their parents to
lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance at board meetings, which would
bring parents to district headquarters more often. Technology is
something we need to hunker down on. We are in a financial crisis
with state budget cuts, and we need to be prudent with how we
purchase. We have started piggybacking with other districts on
technology spending, but we are still all over the place with it and
need to step back a little. I also want to see artificial turf
installed at Moyse Field and at CV High. I think it’s time, and if we
can partner with local businesses to purchase the fields, the initial
cost would balance out our long-term field maintenance costs in seven

I want to raise the bar a little on nutrition and fitness. We could
continue to offer healthier foods for our kids and we could
strengthen our physical education programs by partnering with local
groups like AYSO and Little League to give our kids more chances for
extra activities.

NP: Because of the state budget deficit, the district is reducing its
spending by about $7 million for the 2004-05 school year. Why does
the board continue to spend money on outside consultants for
evaluating things like technology spending?

GK: When you hire consultants, it helps you fine-tune your spending
and slim down. There are people in our workforce being paid up to
$100,000 in some cases who should have the expertise to not need
consulting but, in some cases, you really need it to reduce spending
in the long term.

NP: This board voted to approve spending as much as $3.1 million in
reserve funds each year for the next three years. If you are planning
ahead for the future of the district, what is the plan to replenish
those reserves?

GK: We are required to save a certain amount of money, but reserves
are there for times like these. If we didn’t use reserves right now,
we would have to lay people off. That’s why we are also consolidating
and filling vacant positions. We’ve committed to spending reserves
for the next three years, and at that point, we would start building
our reserves back.

NP: Do you have other goals for the next year that people should be
aware of?

GK: I would like to start giving a “State of the Schools” address
every fall to inform the community about the status of our schools.
I’d also like to host a vendor fair, where local businesses could get
involved in the bidding process for purchasing, plumbing, roofing and
providing supplies for our schools. I plan to be more visible in the
community by creating a “Board Member in Your Neighborhood” monthly
event, where I could meet with people at schools or over coffee in
the mornings.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS